Research at the UBC Farm

Research at the UBC Farm

 

The UBC Farm is a multidimensional space committed to enable year-round research opportunities for the UBC academic community, community partners, farming organizations, and others interested in developing and/or testing scientific innovations to achieve a sustainable food system.

 

The UBC Farm is a certified organic teaching, research, and production farm located within the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus in the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-speaking xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people.

The 24-hectare UBC Farm is a biodiverse space where sustainable, diversified food cultivation, educational activities and cutting-edge research takes place in a coordinated manner. The Farm provides researchers with a variety of natural (i.e. conservation forest, tree plantations and vegetation restoration areas) and managed land (i.e. crop production area and pasture) in which to conduct socio-agroecological research.

The Farm is committed to establish itself as an impactful research facility and a Long-Term Agroecological Research Station supporting applied socio-agroecological research to build a sustainable food system.

See below to find out how to conduct research at the UBC Farm.

UBC Farm Research Procedures

For instructions on how to conduct your research project at the UBC Farm, see our UBC Farm Research Protocol.

Research activities on-site are subject to fees depending on specific uses of the land and space requirements. Please consider that fees are subject to an average two to five percent (2-5%) annual increase.

  • View the UBC Farm land use fees schedule.
  • Site user fees will be charged based on calendar year.
  • Researchers will have access to a live version of their invoices during their project for monitoring purposes.
  • A final invoice will be sent by email from CSFS Finance with further instructions on how to pay at the end of the calendar year.
  • You can request a farm gate key to access the Farm outside of public access hours by contacting the Site Coordinator. See public access hours here.
  • All projects that do not involve Indigenous work are required to share data after project completion to be displayed on the CSFS Dataverse, available on our public data repository for up to 3 years after completion.
  • All projects must adhere to our Data Sharing policy and have a completed consent form.
  • See data from other projects visualized on our Tableau Data Visualization site.

For more information or support, please contact the CSFS Data Manager.

Ready to begin?

Submit your land-based research proposal  

UBC Farm Resources

The UBC Farm offers a range of spaces and equipment to assist you with conducting your research activities on site. See our list of resources and spaces available in our booking system.

Technology:

  • Desktop Computers located at the Farm Centre (13 available)
  • Laptops (5 available)
  • Projector for presentations (1 available)
  • iPads (7 available)
  • Note: Internet connection via UBC Visitor is available for all. For researchers with an active CWL login, the UBC Library and associated library services can be accessed.

Event Spaces and Infrastructure:

  • Yurt (space for 40 people / chairs and tables available)
  • Children's Greenhouse (space for 30 people)
  • Outdoor tents (10’ x 10’ and 10' x 20’)
  • Outdoor tables and chairs (available weekdays only)
  • Storage space for equipment (lockers and sheds)

How to Book:

  • If attempting to book while located off-campus: Access the UBC Network using UBC’s VPN. Then, log in to the booking site using your UBC CWL credentials.
  • If located on-campus: While using a UBC computer with ethernet internet connection, no VPN network access is necessary. Log in to the booking site using your CWL credentials.
  • Note: Non-UBC researchers who do not have CWL login credentials can request a temporary CWL to book any of these resources while conducting their research at UBC Farm. Please contact ubcfarm.research@ubc.ca to request your temporary CWL credentials.
  • Contact the Site Coordinator for any questions you may have on the booking process.

The following farm field equipment and assistance is available (fees applicable) by contacting the Farm Manager:

  • Tractor
  • Various hand tools
  • Irrigation infrastructure (drip irrigation lines and sprinkler irrigation)
  • Consumable items (organic fertilizer, soda dust, etc.)
  • Field staff expertise and labour
  • Seed orders (depending on farm staff availability and timing)

The following shared research equipment can be requested depending on availability. Inquire about these by contacting the Research Manager:

The UBC Farm Research Resources Map

Map of the UBC Farm showing all the different uses of the land and other key resources available to researchers conducting projects.

UBC Farm Research Projects

Project start Project end PI Project title Brief description
2017 Ongoing Matt Mitchell Biodiversity Monitoring Plan for the UBC Farm Researchers are implementing a comprehensive monitoring plan at the UBC Farm that will help to understand how farm management affects biodiversity in agricultural and urban systems.
2020 2023 Sean Smukler Too Much Water or Too Little: Climate Resilient Vegetable Farming This project will assess the field performance of a suite of novel soil management practices to develop crop management recommendations that account for variation in soils and climate scenarios.
2022 2023 Sarah Benson-Amram UBC Urban Raccoon Project Researchers will be using wildlife cameras to estimate abundance, and monitor behavior and activity of raccoons at the UBC Farm. This project is part of a wider monitoring network across Vancouver, and across Urban areas in North America as part of the Urban Wildlife Information Network (UWIN Project).
2022 2022 Risa Sargent Mediating Ecosystem Services Through Habitat Diversification Using Pepper Plants as a Model Researchers will be testing how white clover and sweet alyssum refuge strips in pepper plots affect the pest predation by ground beetles and syrphid flies, pollinator attraction , and crop damage/productivity.
2005 2030 Leonard Foster Honey Bees Pathogen Response This project aims to understand some of the methods in which bees can defend themselves against pathogens and enrich a particular kind of social behaviour that enables them to better fend-off mites and bacteria.
2018 2022 Mark Johnson A Living Laboratory for Water Sustainability The project is developing a water innovations node for UBC’s Campus as a Living Laboratory initiative to conduct water monitoring and evaluate water use reduction strategies to minimize the water footprint of agriculture at the UBC Farm and support UBC’s Water Action Plan.
2007 2027 Bev Ramey Nature Vancouver Bird Survey Nature Vancouver members are conducting monthly bird surveys at the UBC Farm to record the seasonal bird species over the year. Long-term data on birds and their use on various habitat areas of the Farm provides researchers insight into how bird use has changed with changes to the Farm, such as planting of the biodiversity hedgerows, and changes to bird populations over time.
2019 2022 Solveig Hanson Participatory Variety Trial and Breeding for Commercial Organic Vegetable Growers and Seed Producers in Canada (CANOVI) CANOVI will support organic vegetable variety trials on farms throughout the country which will identify crop varieties which perform best in each ecological region. Then, through participatory breeding, farmers can start to develop vegetable varieties optimized for organic systems.
2020 2023 Juli Carrillo Long Term Pest Monitoring at the UBC Farm The research team is identifying what the impacts of the UBC Farm practices are on Click Beetle, Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), and Strawberry blossom weevil abundance, all pests of concern for local crops. Activities include placing numerous baited and non-baited traps across the production fields and field edges to determine insect abundance in connection to various farm practices.
2017 2037 Cara Haney Identification and Characterization of Beneficial Plant Root-associated Microbes The goal of this work is to understand the genetic basis of plant-microbiome interactions primarily with the wild plant Arabidopsis. The long-term goal is to apply these findings to develop better biopesticides and biofertilizers.
2009 Ongoing Sharmin Gamiet Truffle Establishment in B.C. This project will provide information to the development of best management practices for cultivating Périgord black truffle (Tuber melanosporum) using English oak (Quercus robur) as the host tree in BC.
2022 2022 Pablo Sandoval Project Treehole Researchers will be testing how urbanization affects the water quality of micro-ecosystems and insect biodiversity by analyzing the aquatic insect communities that colonize small water-filled containers on trees (treeholes) and nearby containers on the ground (groundholes).
2022 2023 Lev Lavkulich Application of ground penetrating radar and penetrometer for assessing compaction in agricultural soils Researchers will be investigating the effectiveness of using ground penetrating radars (GPRs) to assess the spatial variability of soil compaction across different land uses and soil types.

 

Project start Project end PI Project title Brief description
2021 2021 Juli Carrillo Bumble Bee Forage Preferences Study Researchers will be capturing bumble bees nested at the UBC Farm to determine which floral resources are preferably foraged, including berries, apples, and hedgerows. The goal is to identify a series of floral resources that can create an optimal foraging season for the bees by extending the available foraging time.
2021 2021 Dan Durall Truffle Irrigation 2021 Researchers will be testing different irrigation regimes (three different levels of available water in the soil) on the UBC Farm English Oak orchard previously inoculated with black truffle (Tuber melanosporum) over the 2021 growing season to determine how water availability in the soil may impact black truffle production.
2020 2021 Rob Guy Passive Open Top Chambers to Study Climate Warming For this project, six passive low-cost open top chambers (OTCs) are being used to test their capacity to mimic climate warming conditions.
2021 2021 Risa Sargent Determining Effects of Urban Park Management on Wild Bee Reproductive Fitness This project is looking to identify how sweat bees’ reproduction and survival rates are impacted when introduced to various floral environments at Vancouver parks.
2018 2021 Juli Carrillo Ecological Pest Management for Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) This project’s goal is to develop multiple, independent strategies for pest management of Spotted Wing Drosophila, an invasive fruit fly, with a focus on ecological and organic methods of control.
2020 2021 Terry Sunderland Tree Inventory of the UBC Farm to Accelerate Agroforestry Research Researchers are conducting an extensive study of all trees located in the forests surrounding the UBC Farm to identify what species of trees are present, what invasive species may be threatening the forest, and what defects local trees may possess and if they have any effect on public safety.
2020 2020 Gurcharn Bear Wheat, Barley, and Oat Rust Differential 250 different genotypes of wheat, oat, and barley were planted at the Farm to be naturally infected with the disease stripe rust, which is common throughout the Pacific Northwest. The project's goal was to identify which genetic strains showed natural resistance to the disease.
2020 2020 Xiaotao Bi The Effect of Engineered Biochars on Soil Nutrient and Heavy Metal Leaching The research team examined if/how biochar that is created with microwave pyrolysis (as opposed to conventional pyrolysis) reduces the amount of nutrients and heavy metals leached from the soil. 
2020 2020 Risa Sargent and Juli Carrillo Disentangling Drivers of Wild Bee Reproductive Fitness Researchers, through the use of emergence tents placed at various locations at the UBC Farm, investigated which locations, floral resource availability, and soil statuses were preferential to native ground-nesting bees.
2020 2020 Michelle Tseng The Effect of Temperature on Fitness and Flight in Lepidoptera Researchers examined Cabbage White Butterfly eggs found on Brassicaceae crops to determine if/how climate change is affecting the butterfly’s fitness.
2020 2020 Yann Cornil How “Ugly” Labels Can Increase the Desirability of Odd-Shaped Produce Researchers conducted a study to help inform marketing directed at reducing misshapen food waste. During the 2020 farmer’s market, “ugly” food products for sale were placed adjacent to “desirable” foods with and without labelling the “ugly” product as ugly.
2019 2019 Juli Carrillo Bee Smart: Environmental Designs for Bee Conservation The Bee Smart project looked into the native bumble bees' preferred host plants, microclimates, and weather variables. The ways in which these impact bee abundance and diversity were investigated.
2019 2019 Brett Couch Plant Associated and Plant Pathogenic Fungi Diversity Monitoring This project investigated whether the UBC Farm hedgerows were harbouring fungal diseases that infected production crop fields. The ways to minimize these impacts without the use of pesticides nor excessive biodiversity removal were studied.
2019 2019 Juli Carrillo Spotted Wing Drosophila Trials This project tested if the plant Sweet Alyssum could be used as an attractor of Leptopilina Japonica, a parasitoid of Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD). The research looked into whether this interaction acts as a natural biological control against the harmful SWD in blueberry production.
2018 2018 Andrew Riseman Climate Smart Agriculture This project determined the effectiveness of utilizing a plastic layer of mulch, compounded with a low tunnel, to extend the growing season of crops and cushion against the impacts of climate change.
2018 2019 Sean Smukler Improving Organic Vegetable Farm Sustainability through Enhanced Nutrient Management Planning Researchers analyzed four different amendment strategies to determine which combination of organic amendments was best to improve soil organic carbon and crop nutrients. This helped to inform farmers of which strategies reduced GHG emissions.
2018 2018 Juli Carrillo Tri-trophic Interactions in Wild and Domesticated Sunflower This project investigated the differences between wild vs. cultivated sunflower crops in their ability to defend against higher-trophic level insects.
2018 2018 Andrew Riseman Installation of a Wireless Ground Water Meter This project aimed to determine if a wireless ground water-meter could be viable on a budget while utilizing a Raspberry Pi platform.
2017 2018 Andy Black Greenhouse Gas Mitigation in Organic Blueberries (AAFC) This project analyzed multiple mulch and fertilizer application strategies on blueberries to determine differences in GHG emissions, crop yield, and carbon sequestration capacity.
2016 2018 Zia Mehrabi Stewardship Science Technology for Monitoring the Socio-ecological Outputs of Farming Activities Researchers developed a free, open-source mobile app (LiteFarm) to advance sustainability science and to help farmers improve their financial and environmental management using the UBC Farm as a model farm.
2015 2019 Darren Irwin Geographic Variation and Speciation in Birds This project investigated local bird fauna as a comparison of genetic and phenotypic differences amongst birds found in different regions of B.C.
2015 2019 Hannah Wittman BC Seed Trials A series of variety trials was conducted at the UBC Farm to identify seed varieties that were well suited for organic growth, and to enhance seed quality and biodiversity in B.C. This project would later become the Participatory variety trial and breeding for commercial organic vegetable growers and seed producers in Canada (CANOVI project).

 

Below are documents with additional information pertaining to all current and past research projects.